Waking in the Dark
A Chance Meeting
Disclaimer: I do not own either set of non-original characters and I do not make money off of this endeavour.
Time period: After Season seven of Buffy. And the other show, season 3.
Consciousness crept slowly back and the first thing she was aware of was that her entire body ached. The second fact that reached her mind was that someone was holding her hand.
Which was different.
Usually when she regained consciousness she was tied up and being tortured. Not that she felt particularly good at the moment, but it was a general ache, not the sharp specific pains associated with someone trying to hurt her.
There was a ringing in her ears. That was a familiar sensation. She’d been blown up, or nearly so, enough times to become well acquainted with it.
So, there was an explosion- It came back to her. Airport. Gunmen. Xander. The man had yelled a warning to his compatriots, in Mandarin of all languages, about setting off a bomb.
She cracked her eyes open. It was utterly dark. She couldn’t see a thing. By feel, she wasn’t in a hospital bed, which didn’t bode well. And if she wasn’t in a hospital then the person holding her hand would be…
There was a shifting beside her and his voice said, “Sydney?”
“Slightly battered, but alive.”
“I was beginning to get worried.”
She started to sit up and she felt his other hand on her arm.
“Watch your head,” he said. “The ceiling is a little low.”
She made it to a sitting position, feeling a little wobbly but okay. “How long was I out?”
“Not too sure. I was unconscious for a while and my watch doesn’t have a light.”
She stretched out her neck and back while muttering, “I thought all watches had lights these days.”
“Yeah, well…” he sounded almost embarrassed. “It’s a snoopy watch.”
She paused in mid-stretch, feeling a smile tugging at her lips. “Snoopy?”
Yup, definitely defensive. She squelched her amusement. “So, are we where I think we are?”
“If you mean are we buried alive in a collapsed section of a building? Then, yeah, we’re right where you think.”
There was a sudden loud creak and the sound of shifting from above. Something powdery and smelling of plaster rained down on them. Her heart lurched and the hand holding hers was suddenly squeezing very tight. She reached her other hand over and squeezed his hands between hers. Obviously the pocket they were in wasn’t entirely stable.
He gave a slightly shaky chuckle. “No worries, this situation is minor compared to all the others over the years. After all, in this case I can only die.”
She’d had the feeling that the shadows in his eyes were from more than the death of his fiancé. “Only?” she asked.
Wasn’t much she could do about their situation, she thought, so she might as well get to know the person she could be spending her last moments with.
“Uh, yeah.” He sounded reluctant to elaborate. “I don’t think I ‘m going to explain that since you’ll think I’m a lunatic. But if…no, when we get out of here. Go look up Sunnydale. Death statistics, missing persons, the works. I think you’ll get what I mean.”
Death statistics? Okay, that was an odd answer. The ceiling gave another loud groan and they both jerked.
After a moment he said, “So, now that we’ve established I’m a weirdo. What about you?”
He was trying to take both their minds off the situation.
“Well,” she said. “What would you like to know?”
“Ah, life history? That sort of thing. It’s not everyday that a beautiful woman sits down next to me in a bar and strikes up a conversation.”
Huh. Gregarious when faced with death. That was a new reaction; most of the guys at the CIA would be grimly serious in a similar situation.
“Well,” she started. “I was born-”
Yes, that definitely felt like a smile on her face. “Shush, you asked.”
“I was born to Laura and Jack Bristow. My mom died in a car accident when I was just a few years old. My dad’s been rather distant for most of my life, but we’ve been working on that for the last few years. He and I have gotten a lot closer. In fact sometimes he can be a little overprotective.”
God she hated lying. Ironic for a spy. Best to keep it as simple and truthful as possible. Of course he’d probably already guessed there was something unusual about her, but he probably hadn’t figured out that she was an agent for the CIA.
“A dad that’s over protective,” he said. “Must be nice.”
There was a note in his voice that she couldn’t immediately place. Bitterness? Longing? She took a stab and said, “I’m guessing from your tone that your dad is somewhat different?”
He gave a laugh that was definitely a bit bitter and said, “Yeah.”
He didn’t say anything else and there was an uncomfortable silence.
“Well, that’s one deep dark secret from me,” he said. “How about you?”
Deep dark secrets? Did she have any that weren’t classified?
“Well,” she said. “I’m thirty one and I still have a set of loony tune’s PJs.”
“Oh, come on,” he said. “You’re not getting away with just that. There’s gotta be something more.”
Oh, if he only knew. Well, she could tell him… She took a deep breath and said, “I have amnesia, and I can’t remember the last two years of my life.” That fact wasn’t classified, only the circumstances around it.
Silence. No joke or funny comment was forthcoming.
She said, “I was knocked out in my house, and I woke up two years latter in Hong Kong.”
There were several seconds of silence and then he said, “It must be hard.”
“Not knowing where I was during that time or what happened to me? Yeah, I have nightmares about it.”
“That would be hard too.”
Too? That gave her pause, so she asked, “You were thinking of something else?”
“You had a life, right? Friends and loved ones, a job. And suddenly everything around you is different. You don’t fit. Everyone has moved on. The place that was yours is gone.”
Her chest felt tight and she furiously blinked away unexpected tears.
She must have made a noise because his grip on her hand tightened and he said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”
“No, It’s all right.” She wiped at her eyes with her free hand. “You just caught me off guard. I didn’t expect you to…”
“Understand? See?” She felt his shrug through his hand. “Most people don’t. The one guy who did gouged my eye out.”
She looked sharply toward him even though he was invisible in the darkness.
“Anyway,” he hesitated. “Sydney, you make your life just by living it. The life you had two years ago may be gone, but you do have the one you’re living now. And you do fit in it, because it’s yours. It probably doesn’t have all the things you wanted from your old one, but it does have thing that the other didn’t: opportunities, friends. Like the one you made today.” He gave her hand a squeeze.
The ceiling gave a long drawn out groan and as it faded she heard Xander mutter, “For however long that lasts.”